New NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue Starts Today as Mayor Adams Reneges on his 1% for Parks Campaign Promise

“Public-Private” Background

Today is NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue’s first day on the job. New York City has never appointed a public-private partnership head to be in charge of the city’s very public Parks Department. Since 2014, Donoghue was President of the private Prospect Park Alliance, a “non-profit organization that operates [that] park in partnership with the city of New York.”

The Prospect Park Alliance has had some issues with its surrounding community — lack of garbage pick up, over-commercialization, mass killing of Canada geese/wildlife & more. Some of these incidents occurred prior to Donoghue’s arrival yet there remained an over-reliance on private events and private money. This Brooklyn park entity has been less egregious than other notable public-private (but basically private) entities.

Due to years-long community push back, at Washington Square Park, this kind of private entity does not run or oversee our public park which remains managed by the city’s Parks Department – although there is a private entity that would like to.

So, we’ll see how this plays out. Donoghue was also an Assistant Commissioner in the Parks Department under Mayor Michael Bloomberg which is not necessarily a point in her favor.

Eric Adams Goes Back on Years Long Promise of Upping Parks Department Budget to 1%

Eric Adams stated that he would adhere to his campaign promise of increasing the Parks Department budget to at least 1% of the city budget. However, his budget released a week ago for the city agency was reduced even further from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s last budget. Hmm.

The Parks Department oversees 14% of city land; for decades, the agency’s budget has been decimated. This is the preliminary budget. It’s always a dance, back and forth, but really?


Eric Adams’ announcement on appointment of Sue Donoghue

Dedicate a penny of every budget dollar to NYC parks Recent New York Daily News Op-Ed by New Yorkers for Park’s Executive Director Adam Ganser:

“On the campaign trail last year… to increase funding for New York City’s parks to 1% of the city’s budget. [Eric Adams voiced support to] …  raising parks funding to 1% of the budget, from about 0.6% where it stands today, would reverse decades of city disinvestment that has left our parks department operating under an austerity plan with only 0.5% of total city spending since the 1970s.

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6 thoughts on “New NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue Starts Today as Mayor Adams Reneges on his 1% for Parks Campaign Promise”

  1. I’d like to call my local city council rep. Is there action my local rep can take? What are some good talking points? What gets lost when a park goes public-private? I want to be able to spell it out for her when I’m on the phone. Really, it’s just one penny on the dollar. Why is this even a topic of discussion? Not surprised about Adams one bit. I bet you can get sunburn from the daylight streaming between Adams, the truth, and his promises.

    • Hi Robert,

      Thanks for your comment and interest. Apologies for the delay. The issues with privatization of public space relate to private interests taking hold; they are able to manipulate things behind the scenes leading to loss of public access to public space, commercial interests taking hold, real estate interests gaining sway and more. Some of this is outlined here: The city’s Parks Department should be able to fund our public parks without the need for private money which ultimately corrupts the public process as much of privatization does.


  2. Thanks for keeping s informed, Cathryn! Welcome to Sue Donoghue. Hopefully she will be able to keep the radical political and artistic public spirit of Washington Square Park. It might be good to enumerate, for the 1000th time, why this is so important. Hey, are they still calling it the “Tisch Fountain”? (I bet no one knows …. )


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